JamWorld watchman murder convicts to make second push for appeal next week
Two men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015 for the throat-slashing murder of a watchman at the JamWorld Entertainment Centre in Portmore, St Catherine, will be making a second attempt to get the court’s permission to challenge their...
Two men who were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015 for the throat-slashing murder of a watchman at the JamWorld Entertainment Centre in Portmore, St Catherine, will be making a second attempt to get the court’s permission to challenge their sentence and conviction.
Following their convictions, Devon Sweeney and Ray Bryan had unsuccessfully sought leave before a single judge in the Supreme Court to appeal against their sentence and conviction.
However, they will now be seeking leave from the Court of Appeal and their case is to be heard on Monday.
Sweeney, who was employed to JamWorld as a night watchman, and labourer Ray Bryan, were both convicted in the Home Circuit Court in May 2015 for the murder of Devon Marsh, otherwise called ‘Tim’.
Marsh, who had been reported missing, was found with his throat slit at JamWorld on August 7, 2003, a week after he was last seen.
His body was found in a decomposing state with the neck almost severed.
During the sentencing, Sweeney was ordered to serve 24 years in prison before being eligible for parole, while Bryan was ordered to serve 20 years before he is parolable.
The Crown had alleged that, some time between July 31 and August 5, 2003, the men murdered Marsh.
There was no eyewitness to the murder, but prosecutors Kerri-Ann Kemble and Donnette Henriques presented circumstantial evidence to prove the case against the men.
The prosecution case was that Marsh was last seen on July 31, 2003 after he visited his mother in the morning and later collected his salary as well as Sweeney’s from the office.
On August 4, his mother, having not seen him, visited JamWorld, where he was living, and reportedly visited his premises and saw blood in a section of the house. Divers on the compound had also reportedly removed a blood-stained carpet, a Bible, pill box and bed spring from a canal.
The mother subsequently reported the matter and Marsh’s decomposing body was found on August 7 on the premises. The police had earlier searched a septic tank on the premises, but came up empty-handed.
Following investigations, both men were arrested and charged.
However, both applicants are appealing their cases on two similar grounds. One, that the trial judge ought to have accepted the no-case submission made on their behalf, as the contents of the case and the way in which it was presented highlighted the potentially egregious dangers of legally insufficient circumstantial evidence being left to the jury. And further that the evidence that was presented was insufficient to meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The other ground is that the verdict is unreasonable, having regard to the evidence presented.
The defence is contending that the Crown had relied entirely on circumstantial evidence and that there was no physical or forensic evidence linking the men to the murder.
Attorney-at-law Valerie Neita-Robertson is representing Sweeney, while Gladstone Wilson is representing Bryan.
Although the murder had taken place in 2013, the trial did not start until 2015 because the case files were destroyed in a fire at the Spanish Town Courthouse and had to be reconstructed by the police.